Saturday, July 5, 2008

Generation 9/12

I found an interesting article in my international relations textbook while reading in bed this morning. It's written by a man named Thomas L. Friedman. He grew up in St. Louis Park (MN), and now writes for the New York Times. He was once a strong supporter of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, but has since turned his back on the Bush Administration and its policies. In his September 30, 2007 column titled "9/11 Is Over," he wrote:
"We can’t afford to keep being this stupid! We have got to get our groove back. We need a president who will unite us around a common purpose, not a common enemy. Al Qaeda is about 9/11. We are about 9/12, we are about the Fourth of July — which is why I hope that anyone who runs on the 9/11 platform gets trounced" (New York Times).
Anyway, I found an interesting (albeit long) passage from one of his articles in my IR book, this one titled "Ask Not What...":

"I have nothing but respect for the way President Bush has conducted this war. But this moment cannot just be about moving troops and tracking terrorists. There is a deep hunger in America post-Sept. 11 in many people who feel this is their war in their backyard and they would like to be summoned by the president to do something more than go shopping. If you just look at the amount of money spontaneously donated to victims' families, it's clear that there is a deep reservoir of energy out there that could be channeled to become a real force for American renewal and transformation -- and it's not being done. One senses that President Bush is intent on stapling his narrow, hard-right Sept. 10 agenda onto the Sept. 12 world, and that is his and our loss.

Imagine if tomorrow President Bush asked all Americans to turn down their home thermostats to 65 degrees so America would not be so much of a hostage to Middle East oil? Trust me, every American would turn down the thermostat to 65 degrees. Liberating us from the grip of OPEC would be our Victory Garden.

Imagine if the president announced a Manhattan Project to make us energy independent in a decade, on the basis of domestic oil, improved mileage standards and renewable resources, so we Americans, who are 5 percent of the world's population, don't continue hogging 25 percent of the world's energy? Imagine if the president called on every young person to consider enlisting in some form of service -- the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard, Peace Corps, Teach For America, AmeriCorps, the F.B.I., the C.I.A.? People would enlist in droves. Imagine if the president called on every corporate chieftain to take a 10 percent pay cut, starting with himself, so fewer employees would have to be laid off? Plenty would do it.

I don't toss these ideas out for some patriotic high. There is a critical strategic point here: If we are going to be stomping around the world wiping out terrorist cells from Kabul to Manila, we'd better make sure that we are the best country, and the best global citizens, we can be. Otherwise, we are going to lose the rest of the world" (Ask Not).

While I approve, I can't help but (admittedly, gleefully) draw a comparison between Friedman's article and this section of Barack's national service speech:

"That’s why we rallied behind our President. We had a chance to step into the currents of history. We were ready to answer a new call for our country. But the call never came. Instead, we were asked to go shopping, and to prove our patriotism by supporting a war in Iraq that should never have been authorized, and never been waged" (Barack Obama).

Friedman, Thomas . "9/11 Is Over." New York Times 30 Sep. 2007. 5 July 2008 .

Friedman, Thomas. "Ask Not What...." New York Times 9 Dec. 2001. 5 July 2008

Obama, Barack . "Remarks of Senator Barack Obama: A Call to Serve." Barack Obama: Change We Can Believe In. 5 Dec. 2007. 5 July 2008 .

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